HUNDREDS of Nigerians gathered for a two-day Communications Summit in London last week organized to expand Internet penetration and phone connectivity into the country. Organized by the Nigerian Diaspora Direct Investment Summit (NDDIS), the event was designed to expose Diasporans and other international investors to the opportunities available within Nigeria & Communications and IT Sector.
At the event, representatives of Communications Minister Barrister Adebayo Shittu spoke as did the heads of several parastatals under his Ministry. The High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Ambassador George Oguntade kick-started the Summit at the Nigerian High Commission with his welcome message at a cocktail/networking evening on Thursday 10th May 2018 in London.
The full capacity event had in attendance several community and business leaders from the Diaspora and other international investors. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Oguntade called on investors and Nigerians in the Diaspora to invest in Nigeria and to work with the NDDIS, saying that Nigeria is ready for investors. The following day, speakers at the Summit, outlined areas of potential investment opportunities including mobile phones, internet penetration and satellite television. Speaking through his special assistant on New Media Oluwakemi Areola, Mr Shittu called on Nigerians in the Diaspora and potential investors around the world to invest more in Nigeria, saying the country has a huge market.
The Minister said that with a population of more than 180m, made up of mostly youth, who are Information and Communications Technology (ICT) literate, Nigeria offers investors high returns within a short period of time. According to him, Nigeria has about 100m regular Internet users, with a tele-density that exceeds 100%, adding that the country was on course to achieving 30% Broadband penetration by the end of the year.
“Our nation is a huge market and the centre of economic activities in the sub-region as well as ICT development in Africa. Major investors in the ICT sector should not miss these opportunities of mutual benefits which Nigeria presents.” Minister Shittu said.
The Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador George Oguntade, who was represented by Ahmed Sule, the Minister for Trade and Investment at the Nigerian High Commission, said the Nigerian Government is committed to using ICT for economic development and financial inclusion, which he said, encourages potential investors in the sector. He added that Nigeria is ready and always open to genuine investors, emphasising that the government has removed bottlenecks faced by investors in establishing and running businesses.
Chief Bimbo Afolayan, the NDDIS Chief Executive said the Summit Programme was initiated in 2013 to build a bridge between Nigeria and Nigerians in Diaspora, who would like to either return home or invest in Nigeria. He added that it was an initiative designed to facilitate inward investment into Nigeria through the Diaspora. According to him, the Nigerian Communications and Technology Summit was the most challenging event in the history of the NDDIS, which has had 4 other highly successful event in the past attended by Governors, Ministers and other VIPs from Nigeria.
During an NDDIS press conference in Abuja, earlier this year, Mr Shittu announced plans to tap into Nigerians living in the Diaspora in a bid to surpass the 30% penetration target set in the National Broadband Plan by the end of the year. According to the minister, because of poor electricity supply in the country, newer technologies were required for Broadband connectivity in the rural communities where the customer base might not justify investment in multi-layer power generation by existing telecommunications operators.
Lindsey Oliver, the chief executive of Africa Media Works, which owns Yanga TV, said that Nigeria is a country with immense potential in so many areas and international investors need to be aware of this. She added that NDDIS is an ideal platform to link Nigeria with the Diaspora as it had government backing, which could allay the fears of those not familiar with the Nigerian terrain.
Thomas Gaga, the General Manager ICT of NiPost, pointed out in his speech that there is a need to include ordinary people in the financial growth of Nigeria. Iyabode Sholanke, the Director of Research and Development at the Nigerian Communications Commission, added that facilitating investment into the Nigerian market for the provision and supply of communications services, equipment and facilities is something his agency takes very seriously and will continue to work with NDDIS.
Ernest Akinola, the Chief Executive of Ntel, pointed out that there is a need to redefine the Nigerian telecommunications landscape to enrich the lives of Nigerians as we progress into the 21st century.
Dr Boma Douglas, the chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK added that Diasporans are key to this redefinition and urged them to seize the opportunities available to them.
Nikky Ibraheem, the managing director of Neasden College and Jashim Uddin, the Chief Executive of Oxford College of Education, spoke about the advantage Nigeria has because she has a large, young and relatively well educated population. They pointed out that there was the need to build on this potential though through dedication and innovation.
Ayotunde Coker, the managing director of the Rack Centre, Nigeria, pointed out that ICT offers unique opportunities for the Diaspora.
Yusuf Kazaure, the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone pointed out that how the government supports the ICT industry over the comings years will help shape Nigeria's future economic growth. While David Smith, the Chairman of the British African Business Alliance underlined the qualities of the diaspora in terms of investment, management expertise and technological experience, features should not be underestimated by Nigerian Business.